India’s tourism industry is set to grow at a fast pace following Commonwealth Games, according to R H Khwaja, secretary of India’s tourism ministry.

India today is emerging as a major economy of the world with growth rate of more than eight per cent per annum. The tourism industry in India is set to grow even at a higher pace, Khwaja was quoted as saying by PTI.

The arrival of foreign tourists in India in October 2010 saw an upsurge by 9 percent against the arrivals over the same period last year. The figure is a strong indication of the tourist inflow from overseas will further increase in the coming years, he said.

Khwaja, who was in London to attend World Travel Market, told reporters that foreign tourists’ arrival in India will increase by 10 percent by the year end, adding that Commonwealth Games have done well to the tourism sector.

Recent figures revealed by the country’s tourism ministry showed that the sports event helped bring the number of foreign visitors up by 5 percent in October.

However, critics find this number “disappointing”. According to them, the number of visitors from other countries remained miserably low despite the much hyped speculations that Commonwealth Games (CWG) would bring more tourists to New Delhi that hosted the nineteenth Commonwealth Games.

While the ministry has been attributing negative publicity of the Commonwealth Games preparations in national as well as international media, travel industry officials pointed lack of strategy and planning as the core reasons for the low statistics of foreign tourists’ influx.

Even though the Games failed to bring the “expected” increase in the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India, Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) from tourism over last six months, including the period of Games in October, shows significant improvement over last two years. According to an estimate by the ministry of tourism, FEE from tourism at the end of October 2010 were US$ 11187 million with a growth rate of 28.6 per cent as against US$ 8699 million with a negative growth of 10.3 % during the same period in 2009 over the corresponding period of 2008.